Background reading:Many of you will not grasp the noble concept of the pot. Don't blame me, it's not my fault you're not Australian. Rather than getting angry and confused, read Sasha Gabba Hey!'s comprehensive and well-presented Ordering beer in Australia. No worries and Cheers.
The mega-pot is a new arrival appearing in some drinking establishments in Melbourne. It has appeared in some of the pubs attended by university students, such as the Waterloo Cup Hotel in Ascot Vale - an innocuous enough pub frequented by people from the student village. Ostensibly this beer holding vessel is just a 425ml schooner with a shitty name. But to the beerlovers of this fine city, this development is potentially more disturbing. I have only seen it at about 3 pubs, as have my friends, but for each of us it's a slightly different list of 3 or so pubs. At this crucial juncture the trend may either grow into a larger phenomenon or disappear without trace.

When drinking beer served on tap, the fine citizens of this city will generally drink it from a 285ml pot. When ordering by the jug, drinkers may take any size of glass, or even none at all, and the price by quantity of beer will be unaffected, yet always people will get a pot for each person. The main reason they do this is simply because this is what they've always done and is what everyone else does. While this attitude might seem a little unadventurous, it means that the lager of this city, Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught has enjoyed a near monopoly on beer drinking here. Newer entrants to the on-tap market that have done well, namely Cooper's Sparkling Ale and Carlton Black, have only done so because they proved themselves. Swill, such as Stella Artois and Toohey's New have suffered in this city while other cities of Australia have disgraced themselves. In fact, Lion Nathan has had to resort to buying its own pubs, only to find that for some reason patronage often drops after Toohey's New becomes the only full-strength beer on tap. Tradition has served us well, and due to this most of us have remained loyal to tradition. Should a beerlover wish to feel superior to any of the teeny-boppers with their RTD, we do not need to even consider that they are drinking a filthy and sugary vomitwater or that their collective tongue is now a vivid blue. It is enough that we are carrying on with the fine deeds of our municipal ancestors, and enjoying a comfortable inebriation, perhaps even a dignified blindness; while they are merely uncouth, giggling, limp-wristed alcoholics with appaling taste.

The fact that beer-drinkers will reject some of the more gimmicky marketing that characterises the advertising of other beverage is both a symptom and a cause of this tradition.

Sadly, it may appear that the appearance of the mega-pot is actually a good thing. I say sadly, as the development can only be considered a good thing in light of recent attacks on pub culture by liberal party governments and the uncultured, moneyed sons of suburban mediocrity of which they consist. The Victorian government under Jeff Kennett introduced poker machines, turning once-vibrant establishments frequented by young people into silent, geriatric shitholes where a pot will cost upwards of three dollars and the sound of the band playing has been replaced by the beeping of infernal contraptions sucking the life out of the ambience as efficiently as they suck the money out of the patrons. In John Howard's Australia, a regressive and inefficient GST was accompanied by excise reform, not only adding significantly to the price of a beer at the pub, but linking rates of excise for certain forms of alcohol to CPI increases. This means that the cost of Beer and Spirits in this country rises exponentially, while a four litre goon bag may be purchased for 6 AUD. Whether by design or accident they are driving the students of this country to less social drinking practices, resulting also in some of the most excruciating hangovers ever concieved of. So, while any change in beer-drinking practices should naturally be looked on with suspicion, the mega-pot may, despite being crassly named, be a good part of the next chapter in the story of our pubs. It may just be the shortlived fad it seems, but I'm prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. At the Waterloo Cup Hotel people find that $2.50 on a Wednesday evening will see them to a Schooner. Crucially, some may even notice that the beer contained within is no different. And if defending Melbourne from Toohey's New or bundy and coke on tap means embracing the mega-pot, so be it.

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